The Family Bird Book

One snowy day in Eugene in 2012 a flock of Townsends Warblers descends on the pine trees around my house in a cacophany of yellow and black stripes. I have never seen these birds, according to both my memory and the bird book. I am excited to make a new entry from my own breakfast table. The bird book is a bright red copy of Audobons Field Guide to North American Birds into which I, and the rest of my family have been documenting our sightings. I do not claim that there is any kind of organized or even particularly consistent approach to either the act of recording or birding among us; but after thirty years, even the most irregular of efforts can produce some fascinating results.
I was raised by birders. Both my parents were diligent purveyors of seed and suet in the garden where they drew fat Stellars jays, striped Chickadees and bright red House Finches. They would take me out for long Sunday afternoon walks in reserves and along lakes and streams, teaching me Egret, Kingfisher, and Wood Duck. They would stand, shoulder to shoulder, glasses in hand, and peer intently through a tiny pair of binoculars which they passed between them, each one refocusing to match their prescription. Then they would puzzle for long minutes, thumbing through, discussing size, markings, and range before, finally, penciling in the date and location of the sighting.

“January 28, 1988 Snow Geese, Sauvie Island, Or”

“April 23, 1989 Dabney State Park, A pair of Merganzers nesting”

On May 24, 1992 They saw both a Western Kingbird and a Western Bluebird near Glenwood, Oregon

In 1990, at twelve years old, I record seeing Red Knot Sandpipers in Newport.

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